WAF Fab Find, The King and Prince Resort, Receives Trip Advisor Top Award

One of my favorite places to stay just received TripAdvisor’s 2012 Certificate of Excellence Award.  The King & Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia is a great “girlfriend getaway.”  Check out my post from last summer…

Kalin’s Chronicles: Relax Like a Queen at the King and Prince Resort

Though I enjoy the freshness of newly built hotels, I also enjoy staying at historic hotels that have been around so long they have a story to tell. May is Preservation Month for the more than 125 Historic Hotels of America. Some of the hotels where I’ve had the pleasure of staying include: the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois; The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; the Tutwiler Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama; and most recently, The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia. The historic hotel is celebrating its 75thanniversary this year, but it’s a great place for you to celebrate your 40th year! (left: The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, GA)

The King and Prince originally opened in 1935, as a private dance club where celebrities, dignitaries, discerning families and business travelers could enjoy dancing by the sea to live band music. And it was THE place to be during the resort era of the 1950’s and 60’s. But if the walls could talk, they’d tell you that the hotel withstood the test of time through two fires in its first two years, and a closing for about five years during World War II. That’s when the U.S. Navy occupied the hotel to defend the southeast coast from German warships. Today a recent multi-million-dollar renovation makes the 75-year-old look as elegant and regal as ever, with ornate painted ceilings and stain glass windows.

I recently enjoyed a charming stay at the resort where my room had a bed so soft and comfortable that I[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D70 2008/04/16 14:13:17.8 Compressed RAW (12-bit) Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000) Lens: 12-24 mm F/4 G Focal Length: 12 mm Exposure Mode: Manual Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern 1/20 s - F/10 Exposure Comp.: 0 EV Sensitivity: ISO 250 Optimize Image: Custom White Balance: Cloudy Focus Mode: Manual VR Control: Long Exposure NR: OFF Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB) Tone Comp.: Normal Hue Adjustment: 0° Saturation: Normal Sharpening: Medium high Flash Mode:   Flash Exposure Comp.:   Flash Sync Mode:   Image Comment: Johnson Pictures, Inc. 2008          [#End of Shooting Data Section] was tempted each morning to sleep in — but the sunrise always called me out to my ocean-front balcony. I was pleased to see that though the hotel is vintage, the amenities are not. My room had a large, flat-screen TV and free wifi. For larger parties, there are also two- and three-bedroom villas and private guest houses. The resort also boasts five indoor and outdoor pools. Just off the lobby is the Delegal room where I enjoyed a wonderful “Southern Charm Sunday Brunch” – a sumptuous buffet that not only included breakfast foods and made-to-order omelets, but also: fried catfish, Georgia buttermilk fried chicken, barbeque ribs, mac and cheese, and their delicious South Carolina shrimp and grits.

As a part of the hotel’s celebration, the Executive Chef, Robyn Gomez, did a cooking demo to show how he prepares the shrimp and grits. The shrimp were huge and fresh, having been caught right off the St. Simon’s coast. I enjoyed thKing & Prince Chef Demo 001e meal with champagne in the Solarium (the hotel’s former front lobby) with a 180-degree view of the ocean. (left: King and Prince Executive Chef, Robyn Gomez)

After stuffing myself at the hotel, I was able to get in a little exercise walking the beach and touring the property, which included the gorgeous King and Prince Golf Resort. The 18-hole course, which is dotted by live oaks and marshlands, underwent extensive renovation last year. I spent some time on the driving range, only to realize my golf clubs have been collecting dust far too long. The mini golf clinic they offered still couldn’t get the rust out of my swing. I nursed my wounded ego at the Clubhouse lunch buffet, where I devoured homemade chocolate chip cookies that are to die for.

Other hotel activities and amenities include horseback riding on the beach, tennis courts, exercise facilities and relaxing spa services at the tranquil Royal Treatment Cottage. And if you happen to visit on a Friday, don’t miss the King and Prince Seafood Buffet – the only one on the island. They’ve been doing it almost since the resort first opened. This is one place where you’ll eat like a queen! So it’s a good thing they’re within walking distance of the nearby village for shopping and other island activities – otherwise I’d have brought back an extra 10 pounds!

I’ll tell you more about St. Simons Island shopping and activities in a future post. After a full day of food and fun, watching the sun set from the beachfront swings is the perfect time to give thanks for such wonderful abundance. The King and Prince treated me so well, I felt like a member of the “royal family” – and I’m looking forward to a royal family reunion!

To book your own royal getaway — to celebrate your 40th or just to celebrate summer — visitwww.kingandprince.com. June 12 – 13 is the Annual Georgia Sea Island Festival, which honors St. Simon Island’s black history and the Geechee/Gullah culture. I always recommend learning a little history and culture of a destination. And remember: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

 

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

Kalin’s Chronicles: Vacation Rentals – A Home Away from Home

Though there are countless hotel and B&B options for travelers, many are choosing to rent vacation homes.  I’ve had wonderful experiences renting vacation homes as part of girlfriend getaways on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and on St. Simons Island, Georgia.  According to TripAdvisor, the Southeastern and Northeastern United States are the top two destinations for vacation rentals.  And 88 percent of travelers say they would choose a vacation rental over a hotel if it was a better value.

Some of the advantages of renting a vacation home include:  more bedrooms and bathrooms, a full kitchen, more economical for parties of 3 or more, more privacy than a hotel, and most have all the comforts of home — and then some.

I recently celebrated my birthday with girlfriends at a St. Simons Island vacation rental and had a great time.  The four-bedroom, 4 ½ -bath home  was yards from the beach; had its own pool; provided four bicycles and an electric car; had a large and well-stocked kitchen with digital appliances, where we had a wonderful time bonding while preparing meals;  had a screened-in back porch and a wraparound front porch with rocking chairs.  The owner even welcomed us with two bottles of wine.  It was fabulous!  I plan to rent that house again, and am now open to renting homes more often.

Here are a few sites that specialize in vacation rentals:

So as you plan your travels for 2012, consider booking a vacation rental.  You might find it’s the perfect option for a girlfriend getaway, a romantic weekend, or even a family reunion.  It’s also a great way to celebrate turning 40!  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain (Photo: Washington DC Vacation Home Rental)

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

Kalin’s Chronicles: Your 2011 Travel Wish List

italian-villasHappy New Year, Women at 40! It’s that time again to reflect on the past year and recharge for the new one. 2010 was a challenging year, so I didn’t get to travel as much as I would have liked. However, I always make a “travel wish list” at the beginning of each year. It feels great to be able to check a city or country off of the list. What’s on your travel wish list?

The same country that was on the top of my list last year, is on the top of this year’s list – Australia! I’ve been wanting to visit this country for a while because once I make it there I will have traveled to all seven continents! Right now I’ll have to live through my friend’s photos from her trip to Australia with Oprah! I was so happy for her, and wished I could have been a stowaway. Other destinations on my list include: Honolulu, Paris, Bahia, Hong Kong, and a return to Cape Town. No matter how much I travel, there are always so many more places to see. (Photo: Gorgeous seaside villa and one of the places on our senior editor’s wish list)

Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: Your 2011 Travel Wish List

Kalin’s Chronicles: St. Simons Island – By Land, Air and Sea

St Simons Island While many U.S. cities are experiencing fall weather, there are still destinations along the southern coast that are beach-ready.  For example; St. Simons Island, Georgia — which was recently listed as one of America’s Top 10 Beach Resorts by AOLTravel.com.  The Largest of Georgia’s four Golden Isles, St. Simons is my favorite.  It’s small enough to enjoy every part of it during a weekend visit — by land, air, and sea.

Start off on land with a historic tour of the island.  See its maritime history at the Fort Frederica National Monument, where the colonists won a major naval battle during the Revolutionary War.   Then tour the old Coast Guard Station which was built by the WPA in 1935.  It houses the Maritime Center with interactive exhibits on the Native American first inhabitants of the island, the island’s World War II history when the U.S. Navy used it to watch for German war ships, a tiny bit of history of the black slave descendents in the area who maintain the Gullah culture, and the island’s shipping and fishing history.   You can also visit old plantations as well as the Tabby House, a souvenir and gift shop housed in a former slave cabin.  The historic marker outside gives a little history of the blacks who were enslaved on the island before the Civil War.  (Image: St. Simon’s Island Beach)

Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: St. Simons Island – By Land, Air and Sea